the terror below the kitchen lino

Sometimes Grandma would stay over
sleeping on a Zed bed behind the sofa
(obviously the bed was called a Zed
because when you folded it foot to head
it had the look of that jagged letter
but I liked Grandma’s explanation better
which was when she lay down and the lights went out
you’d see a line of Zeds coming out of her mouth)

Grandma had her struggles
her routines and rituals
but my favourite one involved an apple

Every morning she’d take a knife and saucer
place them on the table with an apple in front of her
and challenge me to peel it in one unbroken strip
but warned me if I slipped
and the apple skin broke
a terrible evil I’d provoke
just as happened to Uncle Arthur she said
when a great disaster fell on his head
how she saw the lino ripped asunder
revealing just a few fathoms under
a horrible nest of goblins and sprites
looking up in cruel delight
barking and squealing
at the boy in the kitchen who’d failed the peeling
and flew like bats up from the abyss…
and she’d demonstrate this
by cackling, and flexing her claws
at yours
truly
who actually wasn’t unduly
worried by the hideous display
because she did the same thing every day
and I’d peel the apple in one long strip
and she’d say thank you Jimmy now quarter it